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American Ballet Theatre - 'Don Quixote'

by Lori Ibay

June 12, 2004 matinee -- Metropolitan Opera House, New York City

"Don Quixote" has long been an audience favorite at American Ballet Theatre and this season is no exception. The ballet in three acts by Marius Petipa and Alexander Gorsky, with music by Ludwig Minkus arranged by Jack Everly, is full of color and comedy, hand-clapping and finger-snapping, and – of course – spectacular dancing.

Opening with Don Quixote and sidekick Sancho Panza, played with comic expertise by Ethan Brown and Flavio Salazar, respectively, the two set the humorous tone as soon as the curtain rose. Although the plot isn't really about Don Quixote, the brief prologue gave a glimpse of the duo setting out on another adventure, guided by the vision of Dulcinea.

Act I introduced Kitri, the beautiful daughter of Lorenzo, played by Paloma Herrera, and her true love Basilio, a poor barber, played by Julio Bocca. Herrera, a spunky and alluring Kitri, was perfectly matched with Bocca's playful and mischievous Basilio, and together the two played off each other, creating unforced comedy. Likewise, the pair danced easily and cleanly together, with unhesitating dives and lifts and seemingly never-ending supported pirouettes.

Herrera showed off dazzlingly quick feet and perfectly centered pirouettes, tossing easy doubles into a series of fouettes. Even more breathtaking was her rock-solid balance, often holding arabesques for what seemed like minutes at a time. The excitement was non-stop with Bocca's multiple, effortless pirouettes, double tours, and powerful leaps.

More comedy was provided by another comic duo – Kitri's father, Lorenzo, played by Isaac Stappas, and the rich suitor Gamache, played Julio Bragado-Young, who displayed his mastery of physical comedy. While the two attempted to turn Kitri's attention away from Basilio and instead to Gamache, the young lovers were aided by the famous matador, Espada (played by Carlos Molina), and Mercedes the street dancer (played by Monique Meunier). Along with Toreadors Kenneth Easter, Jared Matthews, Alejandro Piris-Niño, Danny Tidwell, Ricardo Torres, and Eric Underwood, Molina danced with fitting bravura, and Meunier was sassy and spirited as Mercedes.

In Act II, Alexei Agoudine, Tobin Eason, Arron Scott, Matthews, Tidwell, and Torres showed muscle as the high-flying Gypsies, led by who else but frequent flyer Herman Cornejo, while sister Erica Cornejo was a passionate and sultry Gypsy Woman. In the second scene of Act II, Sarah Lane was sprightly as Amour in Don Quixote's dream, and Carmen Corella danced with regal elegance as the Queen of the Dryads. The women's ensemble framed the soloists beautifully and gracefully as the Dream Maidens.

Throughout the ballet, Renata Pavam and Misty Copeland danced solidly and with lively energy as the Flower Girls, and the entire corps provided animated commotion in the village scenes (and at the inevitable wedding) as the Toreadors and their companions, the Sequidillas, vendors, and wedding guests. Unfortunately, the curtain had a recurring tendency to fall a bit early, cutting off the audience's view of Don Quixote and Sancho Panza turning toward the mountain at the end of the Prologue, and dropping just moments before the ensemble hit their final tableau at the end of the ballet. Regardless, the audience rose to their feet and remained for several curtain calls in appreciation of stellar performances by the cast, especially Hererra and Bocca.

Charles Barker conducted the orchestra, and the ballet was lit by Natasha Katz.

Edited by Jeff.

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